How to reinvent the wheel in three easy steps

I can’t stand people who have all the answers. I don’t read their books either. I never get it anyway. Do you? Really? I must have lost a bolt or two at some point I tell you.

I prefer people with questions. People wondering. Curious people. They put my brain to work way more than any bestsellers out there. Oh, and I ask questions too, you see. Important ones. Like why violets are blue – things that make me wonder.

So here’s the first and most important step toward the reinvention of your world, toward innovation:

1) Empty your mind. Or make space. Please don’t fill it with crap or stuff already made or already thought of.

American futurist Buckminster Fuller (who is taking on a definite mentor quality to me), once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

In short: Forget what you know. Start fresh. Make a clean slate. I know that it’s not easy to go cold turkey, but here’s a trick if you’re addicted to the data dump: read half the book or listen to only half the TED Talk. Let your mind fill the missing part.

THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL BE THE MOST CREATIVE. This is the place where you will have your own ideas. This is the space where you can innovate. If your brain is an 11-by-17 sheet of white paper, leave at least a square inch unfilled. You never know when you will need it for your own thoughts.

2) “What is it about fire that’s so lovely?” asked author Ray Bradbury.

Set it (your mind, or this sheet of paper) on fire. A blazing fire of ideas. In my “internet” years, I had a boss ask me to have one idea everyday (a very clever boss indeed). Seemed easy at the time. Hey, one idea only. Pfff. Piece of cake for a cool internet dude like I was.

Well, it’s not easy. I probably ended up having a worthy idea every six months. Why? Because I wasn’t trained yet.

My mind was cold and analytic at the time. It didn’t burn. Over time, I was able to keep the ignition alive – always on the lookout for an interesting thought or some fragments of my life experiences that would set a wildfire of ideas on top of a problem I was trying to crack.

So, next time you stumble across something interesting (like those blue violets), make sure the burner is alive. But be careful, fire also “destroys responsibility and consequences,” as noted in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Be good.

3) “That’s another side of me. When people go in one direction, I go the other way. By curiosity,” I said in a very interesting correspondence I’m having with Vancouver marketing consultant Marc Stoiber. Stoiber also writes about innovation, life and brands.

Here’s my final advice if you want to achieve something more important than the latest video you saw on Facebook.

Defy the rules. Always. Fire doesn’t stop at any obstacle. Here’s what music producer/collaborator Giovanni Giorgio Moroder said about inventing the “Sound of the future” in Daft Punk’s Giorgio by Moroder: “Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So, nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do.”

Like Giorgio, you must go in places where vertigo is the name of the game. Once a goal is set, nothing should stop you from trying. Curiosity is of utmost importance. Failing is more than possible.

Act fearlessly.

Who knows, you might find another world out there. And please, don’t listen to party-poopers, they are numerous and they are the ones who miss all of the action in the end.

To reinvent the wheel is not for everyone. After all, it’s only for the dreamers. Only for the fools on the hill. No rules apply to them, not even these steps. Are you one of them?


Published in Strategy Magazine, March 17, 2014

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